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The Small Difference

Men and women are different. Whether the difference is large or small is a matter for academics and probably also secondary. If, however, women are paid less for doing the same job as men – simply because they are women – then a small difference becomes a huge injustice.

In such cases the focus is frequently on the man, who is exercising his power; keeping the woman down; or trying to protect his position. That women also bear responsibility for the game – frequently allowing themselves to be tripped up in negotiations by exactly the qualities that otherwise make the positive difference between them and men – is something that women are often not aware of.

“Women’s behavior,” says Dr. Monika V. Kronbügel (PhD.), CEO of Global DiVision, “often focuses more on outcomes and relationships. They place more value on including others; pay more attention to not offending others. This begins in their childhoods. The distinguished linguistics professor Deborah Tannen, for example, has studied how boys and girls behave and discovered that boys form gangs with clearly defined hierarchies. Nothing happens until it is clear who is the chief and who will be tied to the totem pole today. Girls interact differently. Everyone gets her say, is included. This is, of course, related to a specific type of language acquisition and this language continues on into our working lives.”

The consequence is, however, often that women take things that are said in negotiations personally. Even though the other person’s brash or aggressive statements are often nothing more than part of their strategy. We need to be aware of this when negotiating, thus ensuring that our emotions don’t get in the way.

Women like to act intuitively, following their gut feeling. This not a good starting position for negotiations. If you do not have a best-case objective that you want to achieve; if you have not defined a bottom line that will see you breaking off discussions, then you will not be able to pursue a clear line during the negotiations.

State a clear figure – without then going into lots of detail about why you think this figure is justified. Let the others talk. So that you can then react. Do not give up your demand too quickly – and if you start to go around in circles, then expand the options to include additional elements. This will provide the other side with more leeway without you having to sacrifice your base position.

And if none of this leads to a successful outcome, then terminate the negotiations for the time being. Summarize a few points that both sides agree on and what still needs to be resolved. State that you do not presently see any possibility of reaching an agreement. Then move on to a small talk topic while packing your things together and leave the room with some conciliatory words.

Do not allow the situation to escalate so far that positions become entrenched. Play the feminine “empathy” card. Give the other side time to review the situation and possibly reassess your “value” so that you can then resume negotiations later on a totally different level.

The best negotiators are the ones who treat their partners cooperatively, enabling both sides to save face. And that is undoubtedly a feminine strength!

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